Fresh Opportunities as Digital Provides Advertising Platform for Publishers, Brands  

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Raheem Akingbolu

The digital media space has exploded, providing brands and publishers with exponentially more real estate in which to advertise and get their messaging across, Country Manager, Google Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, has revealed.

In an interview with THISDAY, Ehimuan-Chiazor disclosed that the use of cellular telephony has also exploded – 50% of South African adults today are online and own a smartphone. “Online retail, or ecommerce, has grown by over 20% year on year for the past 16 years, according to research by World Wide Worx, and annual sales have now hit around R9 billion. And then there’s the internet of things – an expanding number of connected devices that gather and transmit data – from smart appliances, to watches and fitness trackers.

“What does this all add up to? a rapidly evolving landscape for advertising executives to navigate and understand. We interact digitally hundreds of times every day, and some of those provide an opportunity for brands to engage us with relevant and useful information. Each of these engagements with a consumer allows a brand to start building a profile of that person. As a brand gathers more and more data on a given consumer, they can leverage the insights the data provides to more accurately engage them, or so the theory goes,” she said

She stated that too often, players in the digital media industry have reduced the conversation about digital transformation to a conversation about shifting budgets from one flavour of digital media to another, rather than a deeper understanding of what this digital transformation really means for a business.

The result of this, according to Ehimuan-Chiazor, is a growing sense of frustration from clients and content creators alike who both sense that they are being short changed in the process. She added that the recent suggestion from the world’s biggest advertiser, Proctor & Gamble, that digital media needs to grow up is a clear example of the pressure that’s going to come digital media’s way.

“Digital is great for generating activity – and for clients interested in big numbers it’s hard to argue with the hundreds of millions of impressions and tens of thousands of clicks, views and likes that are available to buy. Unfortunately, for all the measurable activity there is far too little focus on impact in the form of value created for customers – whether it be in the form of actual sales, or any other measurable attribute.

And when metrics are reported there is often confusion, especially when comparing different media sources: Does an impression mean the ad was actually seen? Are all video views equal? Was my ad seen by someone I care about (or who cares about my product or service?). Many of these questions are simply ignored or answered by columns in excel spreadsheets masquerading as analysis with no actionable insight,”

She pointed out that one of the reasons for this is that the first wave of digitisation has been driven by consumer technology and consumption of information. To this end, the Google boss added that the second wave is now being led by businesses who are leveraging the deluge of information that’s been created by connected people interacting with friends, colleagues and businesses, as well as by increasingly connected systems which has prompted more people to be connected devices.

“Technology has provided new means to engage consumers; it now needs to be used to show how value is created for brands by using those platforms. The second wave of digital is breaking,” she added.